What is it?
Acupuncture is a method of promoting natural healing and improving function within the body. This is accomplished by inserting needles at very precise acupuncture points and may also include applying heat or electrical stimulation.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory includes channels of energy that run in regular patterns throughout the body and over its surface. These energy channels are called meridians and in TCM they are believed to be essential for nourishing the tissues and ensuring proper functioning of the body. An obstruction in the movement of energy along these meridian pathways is believed to be the cause of dysfunction and/or pain within the body. Acupuncture influences these meridians through needling of the appropriate acupuncture points to re-establish energy flow along the blocked meridian pathways, thus allowing healing to occur.
In recent years, acupuncture has begun to be much more widely accepted and practiced in the Western medical world and is often referred to as “medical acupuncture” when performed by non-TCM health care professionals. The modern scientific explanation for the success of acupuncture is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals act as natural pain killers and/or anti-inflammatories to decrease the sensation of pain and promote natural healing within the body.
What is the difference between an acupuncturist and a health care professional certified in acupuncture?
The term “acupuncturist” generally refers to someone who has completed extensive training in TCM, including acupuncture, as well as the use of Chinese herbal and other remedies. They will usually have the letters TCM behind their name, identifying them as a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. With the increased acceptance of acupuncture into the Western medical world, as a result of it’s many benefits and positive results, many physical therapists, chiropractors, and medical doctors have sought additional training to become certified in acupuncture. However, they are generally not doctors of TCM and therefore are not called acupuncturists.